Messi to Inter? Nerazzurri capable of signing Barcelona star, says ex-president Moratti

By Sports Desk August 14, 2020

Inter owners Suning have the resources to sign Lionel Messi from Barcelona, according to the Italian club's former president Massimo Moratti.

Barca superstar Messi has been linked with a shock switch to Inter once his contract expires in 2021 after reportedly growing unhappy at Camp Nou.

That speculation only intensified last month when a picture of the six-time Ballon d'Or winner was projected by the Suning Group onto the Duomo di Milano.

And Moratti, who brought Ronaldo to Inter and also tried to sign Messi, is confident the Serie A giants will land the Argentina international if they really want him.

"I'm just a fan and I don't have any confidential news," he told Quotidiano Sportivo.

"But I know one thing. When it comes to resources and competence, Suning has what it takes to bring Messi to Milan."

Inter already have a prolific attacker leading their line in the form of Romelu Lukaku, who has scored 31 goals in his first season since joining from Manchester United.

Moratti suggested at the start of the season Mauro Icardi would be a better option than Lukaku, but he has admitted to being proved wrong by Lukaku.

"I got it wrong on Lukaku," he said. "In all honesty, I thought he was just physically strong and feared we would regret losing Icardi.

"Instead, Romelu is a champion, always helps his team-mates and has good vision of the play.

"Antonio Conte was right to demand his signing and then did so well to improve him."

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    Josep Maria Bartomeu insisted he had no interest in continuing a public spat with Lionel Messi despite the Barcelona captain's criticism of his presidency.

    Messi stunned the world last month when he informed Barca of his intention to depart the LaLiga giants, with the 33-year-old intending to trigger a clause in his contract to walk away on a free at the end of last season.

    However, the validity of such a stipulation was murky due to the campaign being extended by the coronavirus pandemic, and Messi ultimately opted to remain in Catalonia rather than challenge Barcelona in a legal battle.

    That did not prevent him from taking aim at Bartomeu in an interview with Goal, though, as he accused the president of reneging on his wish to leave and presiding over a club that had "no project or anything for a long time".

    "As president, I will not enter into any conflict with Messi," Bartomeu told TV3.

    "Messi is our captain, our leader. The issue is parked. What has been said has been said.

    "I couldn't allow to let the best player in the world go. The team needs him, he guarantees success. Things have to be discussed at home. You have to support the team and the players.

    "We have to congratulate ourselves that Messi is still with us. He is excited about [coach Ronald] Koeman's project. The important thing is he plays for Barca, at his home. We want him to retire at the club."

    Messi's contract expires at the end of the 2020-21 season anyway, though by that point Barcelona will have a different president as there are elections to replace Bartomeu next March.

    However, Bartomeu, unpopular with some Barcelona fans due to his role in the Messi saga, may be forced out before then if he faces a vote of no confidence on the back of a motion to remove him, which has so far gathered more than 20,000 votes.

    "Right now, no-one is considering resigning," Bartomeu added.

    "The club is not going to stop. I think everyone was surprised by the number of signatures but we respect democracy and the club's laws."

  • Leicester sign Cengiz Under on loan from Roma Leicester sign Cengiz Under on loan from Roma

    Leicester City have completed the signing of winger Cengiz Under on a season-long loan from Roma.

    It is reported Brendan Rodgers' team have paid an initial £2.7million loan fee and hold an option to buy the Turkey international for around £22m.

    Under has spent three years with Roma after joining them in 2017 from Istanbul Basaksehir, though he only started 42 Serie A games over that period.

    "I can't wait to go to Leicester and start training," Under told his new club's website.

    "I've always wanted to play in England and this is a great opportunity to play in the Premier League.

    "I will try to help my team-mates on the pitch and off the pitch and I believe that I can improve my performance every day. I think I am fast and can create lots of chances for my colleagues. 

    "I feel very good because my best friend plays for Leicester City. I am very happy to be able to play with [Turkey team-mate] Caglar [Soyuncu] and I always watched Leicester's games because of him."

    Rodgers had discussed the impending arrival of Under on Friday, stating his belief the 23-year-old will offer something different due to his creativity.

    "He's a very good player," Rodgers said. "We need a different type of attacking player. Having watched him, he's clearly a talented player.

    "We have pace and power at the top end, but we also need some more football in there.

    "We need someone who can beat someone in a one-v-one, we need someone who can break down defences who are organised, when it's tight."

    Leicester beat West Brom in their opening Premier League match of the new season and host Burnley on Sunday looking to make it two wins from two.

  • Liverpool sign Jota: Champions look to the future – Assessing £45m recruit in Opta data Liverpool sign Jota: Champions look to the future – Assessing £45m recruit in Opta data

    Diogo Jota's arrival at Liverpool gives the Premier League champions some added depth as they turn an eye to the future.

    The forward's move from Wolves for a reported £45million was confirmed on Saturday as Jurgen Klopp continued to strengthen his squad.

    But with one of the world's best attacks in Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino already in place, just where does 23-year-old Jota fit?

    With thanks to Opta data, we take a look at Jota, Liverpool's front three and what the future could hold.

     

    A back-up upgrade … for now

    There is no doubt Jota will need to bide his time behind Salah, Mane and Firmino.

    Salah and Mane scored 37 goals between them in the Premier League last season, with Jota's return at least more comparable to that of Firmino.

    Jota scored a goal every 328.1 minutes for a haul of seven, a better return than Firmino (333.4), while converting big chances at a superior rate (33.3 to 23.1) as well.

    But the Brazilian's selfless approach is often lauded and he provided his playmaking credentials during Liverpool's title-winning season. Firmino created 10 big chances and had eight assists, with Jota finishing with three and one respectively.

    While his goal and assist output may not compare, unsurprisingly, what Liverpool are getting is a player who is willing to take their man on. Jota attempted the fifth most dribbles in the Premier League last season with 151, although his success rate was just 43.7.

    It gives Klopp a talent to be nurtured, and some much-needed depth in attack with Divock Origi and Rhian Brewster linked with moves and Takumi Minamino still unproven after his January arrival from RB Salzburg. It may also provide the Liverpool manager with another option in midfield if needed.

    An eye to the future

    At 23 and having signed a reported five-year deal, Jota looks to be a player of the future for Liverpool. With Salah and Mane both 28 and linked with LaLiga giants Real Madrid and Barcelona, one could move on in the near future.

    Unlike Salah, who arrived from Roma in 2017, Mane caught the eye in the Premier League prior to his switch from Southampton.

    Mane turned 23 during the 2014-15 campaign – his first in England and the first of his two at Southampton. He has gone on to become one of the world's best players, but how does Jota compare to that Mane season, at the same age?

    Unsurprisingly, he is behind, but not by much. Mane finished that season with 10 league goals, one every 213.5 minutes, and had a better big chance conversion (40 to 33.3). But he created just four big chances to Jota's three and ended up with three assists (Jota had one in 2019-20), suggesting there is plenty for Liverpool to work with. Even Mane dribbled less (110 attempts), but he went at a success rate of 53.7. Southampton finished seventh that season, while Wolves ended up in the same spot in 2019-20. If Jota can get close to Mane's level in years to come, Liverpool will be pleased with their investment.

    What about Sarr?

    As recently as Friday, Liverpool had been linked with a move for Watford attacker Ismaila Sarr and the Championship club reportedly wanted at least £40m, a similar price the Reds are apparently paying for Jota. However, the payment structures for the two differed and led to Liverpool landing the Portugal international over Sarr.

    The 22-year-old Sarr enjoyed a fine season, particularly considering Watford were relegated from the top flight.

    He was directly involved in more goals (five goals and four assists) than Jota and in fewer minutes, and converted his limited big chances at a better rate (40) while creating three times more. Sarr had a similar dribble success rate (45.2) but attempted far fewer (104) in his first season in the Premier League. There was little between the two in 2019-20, but Sarr's numbers were impressive in a struggling side and he helped end Liverpool's ‘Invincibles' bid with a brace against the Reds in February.

    Liverpool were getting a fine talent either way and Jota shapes up as an exciting long-term prospect at Anfield.

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